NBA Deep Dive – 1/8/17


Early Slate

John Wall has a high floor because he is so involved in the Washington offense, but his price is too high for his ceiling now that Bradley Beal is back.  Milwaukee has the 9th best defensive rating since the beginning of December and has several good rim protectors on the team.  Wall will likely be significantly overowned for his price.

Chris Paul did not have a particularly good game in his return from injury, but we should expect better today against Miami.  Paul’s usage percentage alongside DeAndre Jordan without Blake Griffin is 25.6 and his assist percentage is a whopping 55.5.  Paul’s price is expensive enough that he is not a must play in a pace-down matchup, but he does still have upside.

Goran Dragic is too cheap across the industry and has tournament upside despite a difficult matchup.  Hassan Whiteside is due back for today’s game but Josh Richardson is not expected to play.  Dragic has a 27.4 usage percentage and 32.5 assist percentage alongside Whiteside without Richardson or Winslow this season.  He is too involved in the offense to not be considered at sub-$7,000 price tags.

Kyle Lowry gets a pace-up game against the Rockets.  The downside is that he will be defended by Patrick Beverley, who has regained his status as an elite defender this season.  Houston has the 4th best defensive rating in the league over the last month, in large part due to Beverley.  In 3 games against Beverley over the last 2 seasons, Lowry has averaged just 0.95 DraftKings points per minute.  He is also on the second game of a back-to-back after playing 44 minutes in an overtime game last night.  He has upside despite the surprisingly difficult matchup, but there is a lot more risk than a lot of people may realize which means he will probably be popular.

Patrick Beverley will be needed to defend Kyle Lowry, which means that his minutes are secure and that he will have plenty of opportunities for defensive stats.  Beverley has averaged 37.4 minutes per game over his last 3 against Lowry (two last season and one this season), despite averaging just 28.7 minutes per game last season and 30.8 so far this season.  Lowry’s status as one of the league leaders in minutes will benefit Beverley today and makes Beverley a great option.

Austin Rivers got the start at small forward for the Clippers last game and was productive in 35.5 minutes of playing time.  It is difficult to expect that production to continue, however.  He is averaging just .73 DraftKings points per minute this season and there is no reason to expect that to increase playing alongside Chris Paul, J.J. Redick and DeAndre Jordan.  His price is elevated as a result of his time without Paul, so he is best left alone today.

Malcolm Brogdon is a more risky play today than he has been recently because of the return of Matthew Dellavedova.  It remains to be seen how Kidd manages his rotation now that Dellavedova is back, but he has said that Brogdon will remain the starter.  His $5,600 price tag on DraftKings is likely not worth it with the likelihood of reduced playing time, but he is an appealing tournament option on FanDuel at $4,600 since the Dellavedova news should lower his ownership and, if he takes over the role Dellavedova had as the starter, he should still see over 30 minutes as long as the game remains close.

Late Slate

Kyrie Irving gets a dream matchup against the Suns.  His price is up across the industry but he will have no trouble paying it off if this game stays close.  The big three on Cleveland have all done well in pace-up games this season, and Phoenix ranks 5th in pace and 6th worst in defensive rating since the start of December.  There are better point-per-dollar cash game options but he is an elite tournament option because he has 60+ point upside at a price between $8-9,000 across the industry.

Eric Bledsoe is a tournament option, especially on DraftKings.  Tristan Thompson has done a good job protecting the rim this season, but Cleveland only ranks in the middle of the pack as a team.  Bledsoe will need to be a big part of the offense if this game is going to stay close and his price is just too low for his ceiling.  He is not a great cash option since he is relatively inconsistent and it is not the perfect matchup for him, but he is a strong GPP play because he has 50+ point upside and is less than $7,000 on DraftKings.

Darren Collison and Ty Lawson are both in play as value options against Golden State, although Lawson is the stronger option of the two.  Lawson started alongside Collison last game and they each played at least 35 minutes.  Lawson and Collison played about half of their minutes alongside each other, with Lawson’s minutes being staggered so that he could play point guard with the second unit.  Neither player is a high usage option alongside Gay and Cousins, but Lawson does have a 22.2 assist percentage alongside them to help sustain his production.  Since Lawson gets more time on the floor without Cousins and Gay than Collison does, Lawson is the preferred option since he has a 27.6 usage percentage and 37.8 assist percentage with Collison, Gay and Cousins on the bench this season.

Reggie Jackson has an elite matchup against the Blazers.  He runs the pick-and-roll more than any point guard in the league and the Blazers are bad at defending it.  Portland suffers defensively when Damian Lillard is in the lineup and Jackson should benefit.  Do not let Jackson’s elevated price tag (in terms of price earlier this season) fool you, this is one of the lowest price point we will see for him the rest of the season.

Elfrid Payton gets a very nice matchup against the Lakers.  Los Angeles is allowing the 5th highest field goal percentage to opposing guards over the last month and Payton should be able to take advantage of the lackluster defense and increase in pace.  There is always some risk with Payton, but the upside is certainly there.

Core: Patrick Beverley (early), Giannis Antetokounmpo (DraftKings early), Reggie Jackson, Kyrie Irving

Secondary: Kyle Lowry (early), Goran Dragic (early), Chris Paul (early), Eric Bledsoe, Damian Lillard, D’Angelo Russell

Value: Malcolm Brogdon (early), Ty Lawson, Darren Collison


James Harden is an elite matchup against the Raptors.  Ball-handling guards have had a ton of success against Toronto this season and we should see that continue tonight with Harden.  Harden’s 33.9 usage percentage and 51.7 assist percentage this season are insanely productive and there is nothing not to like about him in a game with a 225.5 total and 2.5 point spread.

DeMar DeRozan will be a very popular option tonight against Houston.  He should benefit from the increase in pace and it is a funnel spot since Lowry will be defended by Beverley.  It still sucks to roster a popular player who is scoring dependent, but this is a slate and matchup that we can do it on.  He is still not a must-play, but he is one of the strongest options at the position.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope draws a very nice matchup against Portland tonight.  He has done well in pace-up games and Portland has played at the 11th fastest pace in the league over the last  month- and plays faster with Lillard on the floor.  In addition, Portland does not offer much in the way of backcourt defense and Caldwell-Pope will be defending a high-usage player which will increase his opportunities for defensive stats.

Klay Thompson will benefit from a nice matchup against Sacramento on a slate that is thin at shooting guard.  Ty Lawson or Darren Collison will not be able to match up with Thompson’s length and we should see plenty of good looks from three.  If Garrett Temple draws the start for Sacramento it would be a downgrade for Thompson, but he would still be a strong option because of the lack of options elsewhere.

Core:  James Harden (early), DeMar DeRozan (early), Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Klay Thompson

Secondary: Bradley Beal (early), Eric Gordon (early), Devin Booker, C.J. McCollum, Evan Fournier

Value: J.J. Redick (early), Wayne Ellington (early), Kyle Korver, Nick Young


Giannis Antetokounmpo is expensive but he has a great matchup against the Wizards who struggle mightily to protect the rim and represent an increase in pace for the Bucks.  Antetokounmpo is a strong option on DraftKings, but is more valuable on FanDuel where he is now small forward eligible.  Giannis has been very productive in his previous two games against Washington this season and we should look for that trend to continue because the matchup is perfect.

LeBron James gets a pace-up game against the Suns. Whether the Suns elect to start P.J. Tucker to match up with him or not, James will be an elite option.  There really is not anything not to like about this matchup, even if Tucker gets the start, because James’ price tag is reasonable and all of the extra possessions that the Suns’ pace will afford him will make up for any efficiency issues that Tucker may be able to cause.  The only concern is that the Cavs could blow Phoenix out, but it is not enough of a concern to stay away from LeBron.

Kevin Durant has still been a little inconsistent lately but, for the most part, has regained his form from earlier in the season.  The Kings have only been playing at the 24th fastest pace over the last month, but they still are in the bottom ten in defensive rating so Durant should be in line for a nice game.  He is behind LeBron at a similar price point, but there is nothing wrong with rostering Durant in tournaments since he should come at lower ownership.

Core:  Giannis Antetokounmpo (Early), LeBron James, Kevin Durant

Secondary: Otto Porter (early), Trevor Ariza (early), Rudy Gay, Aaron Gordon

Value: T.J. Warren, Maurice Harkless, Luol Deng


Jabari Parker, like Giannis, matches up very nicely with the Wizards because they do not protect the rim well.  They also do not defend the three-point line well, and we have seen an emphasis on three-point shooting from Parker this season since the Bucks’ biggest weakness is their inability to stretch the floor.  Parker has played at least 37 minutes in five consecutive games and those minutes should be very productive today against Washington.  It is an added bonus that he is small forward eligible on DraftKings.

James Johnson remains too cheap across the industry, especially on FanDuel, and should maintain an increased role with Winslow and Richardson sidelined.  Johnson is averaging over one DraftKings point per minute this season and has a nice matchup against a Los Angeles frontcourt that is missing Blake Griffin.  We have also seen that Johnson is a capable ball-handler and the absence of Richardson may allow him to do more of that.  He is a five category contributor and is a strong play despite the terrible memories we have of rostering him when he was in Toronto.

Kevin Love did not get a price boost for this matchup and he is one of the best options at the position.  He played 36 minutes against Brooklyn, which indicates that he is back to full strength after his illness.  Phoenix is the third worst in the league at defending the three-point line, though they have been improving lately.  Love should not struggle to get rebounds against the Phoenix frontcourt either.  He is a strong bet for a big double-double tonight.

Julius Randle has been playing very well lately as he has become a triple-double threat now that he plays more minutes.  Do not be scared off by the 25 minutes that he played last game because the game was out of hand by the time his final rotation was supposed to start.  He was on pace for 30+ minutes once again, and he was productive in his 25 minutes despite being questionable for the game with a finger injury.

Tobias Harris has been extremely productive off the bench for Portland and his price has not increased much.  He has played at least 30 minutes and taken at least 13 shots in five straight games.  He will likely be able to avoid playing too many minutes against Al-Farouq Aminu as well, since he is coming off the bench.  The top power forward options almost all have significant weaknesses today, which makes going to Harris in the mid-range a very strong option.

Core:  Jabari Parker (early), James Johnson (early), Kevin Love, Tobias Harris, Julius Randle

Secondary: Ryan Anderson (early), Zach Randolph, Serge Ibaka

Value: Markieff Morris (early), Derrick Favors (minutes could be less on back-to-back), Draymond Green, Al-Farouq Aminu


 Greg Monroe has been playing more minutes lately, with at least 27 minutes in five of his last six.  He should dominate the Wizards’ bench in this matchup, as they are a terrible group of players.  He will also get minutes against Gortat, but Gortat has not been as strong defensively this season as in past seasons.  Monroe’s price is elevated and there is always the risk that Jason Kidd changes his mind about his rotation, but the upside makes the risk worth it.

DeAndre Jordan has had some success against Whiteside in the past and should benefit from having Chris Paul back in the lineup.  Jordan had found a way to be productive without Paul by picking up more assists, but his ceiling is higher with Paul because his true shooting percentage increased from about 64 to 76 percent, meaning it is easier for him to rack up monster double-doubles as a result of lobs from Paul.

Andre Drummond has a pace-up matchup against the Blazers.  He will be the beneficiary of increased rebounding opportunities and he should be able to get plenty of those rebounds against Plumlee.  In two games against Plumlee last season, Drummond recorded 73.8 DraftKings points on 29 points and 27 rebounds and 43 DraftKings points on 14 points and 18 rebounds.  Look for another monster game from Drummond tonight.

DeMarcus Cousins is going to need a huge game if the Kings are going to stay in the game against Golden State.  Cousins should do well against the Golden State frontcourt, but is still a little overpriced on a slate where center is stronger than most other positions.  He has more value on DraftKings where he is forward eligible.  There is nothing wrong with rostering Cousins if you can afford him, just be mindful of what you are giving up elsewhere.

Core:  DeAndre Jordan (early), Greg Monroe (early), Andre Drummond, Rudy Gobert (DraftKings)

Secondary: Jonas Valanciunas (early), DeMarcus Cousins, Rudy Gobert (FanDuel), Marc Gasol, Nikola Vucevic, Mason Plumlee

Value: Montrezl Harrell (early), Tyson Chandler, Tristan Thompson